Divvyshot Launches Out of Private Beta

Last Thursday, we decided to flip the switch on the brand new version of Divvyshot, which I’ve spent a good chunk of the last 6 months working on. With the help of Michael Yuan’s brilliantly simple design, and Sam Odio’s unwavering tenacity, I feel confident in saying that Divvyshot is the easiest and most beautiful way to share photos on the web today.

So let me take a moment to tell you exactly how Divvyshot is breaking new ground for online photo sharing by going through some of our user interface decisions. We spent a lot of time avoiding some existing user interface paradigms, which though commonplace on the web, are clunky and unpleasant. Here’s a sample.

Just Say No to Paging

Most websites that display lots of information use paging to split up the information into distinct chunks. When you search on google today, if the result you are looking for is not in the top 10, you have to click through to the second, third, or fourth (sometimes more) pages. Paging is used to improve page load times as less data is being sent over the internet, but it has the undesired effect of breaking up the natural flow of your eye from top to bottom. On Divvyshot, we display lots of data; sometimes thousands of photos on a single page, but instead of forcing you to click through 10 or 20 pages of 100 photos each, we automatically load more photos as you scroll down the page. Using the load more on scroll model the user has the best of both worlds: a page that loads quickly, and an uninterrupted browsing experience. It’s fast, simple and intuitive. Even your mom can do it.

Edit Forms? Who needs them?

Many websites force users onto a separate webpage for editing content. If you are making big sweeping changes to the content or entering in a lot of data (think website billing information) having a separate page can clean things up. But if you just want to change one little piece of information (like correcting a typo), you have to go through an unnecessarily lengthy process of clicking on an edit button, waiting for the edit form to load, typing in the new data, clicking the save button, and waiting to be taken back to the first page you were on. That’s a lot of clicking around and waiting for such a minor change. On Divvyshot, editing little bits of data is completely integrated into the user interface. Want to rename a photo? Just highlight the text, type in a new one, and hit enter. The new name is saved immediately, without the need for any page reloads or excessive clicking.

Page Refreshing is Old School

Divvyshot is by no means a static website. Things are constantly changing as new events get created, new photos are uploaded, comments are being written, etc. Rather than having to hit the refresh button every 30 seconds to see if your friend has uploaded the photos from the party last night, Divvyshot automatically updates the page when there is something new to look at. You can literally see new photos stream onto the page as they are uploaded by someone on the other side of the Earth. Even though I implemented this feature, it still catches me by surprise every time something new pops up onto my Divvyshot page. I can’t help but think, “that’s cool”

Uploading Files in the Year 2010

Uploading files to the web has been a painful process for a long time – especially if you need to upload multiple files. Often times the user is provided with a few file input widgets which they can diligently click on to select files, then hit the send button and wait patiently as the data is uploaded to the web synchronously – remember not to hit the refresh button or you might submit your files twice! Uploading files with AJAX in the background is also a painful experience requiring the awkward use of iframes, and still requires those pesky file input widgets.

Java applet uploaders were at one point the answer to multifile upload, even allowing you to drag and drop files like a normal desktop application. But java applets take forever to load and sometimes just don’t work for reasons that are difficult to debug. When’s the last time you updated the version of java running on your machine?

Then there is flash, which now provides a hook for selecting multiple files. When combined with a JavaScript bridge, you can whip up a pretty good multifile upload experience using something like SWFUpload. Unfortunately, flash is not quite a panacea, bringing its own problems to the table. Anyone here use linux?

Despite a long history of less than stellar file upload patterns, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That light is HTML5. With the latest version of Firefox, it is now possible to build a truly beautiful and intuitive upload experience. Firefox 3.6 supports dragging and dropping of files onto any drop target, the selection of multiple files from a file input widget, and the reading of that file data in JavaScript for asynchronous uploading. Other modern browsers like Chrome and Safari should follow suit with their own implementations in the near future. Divvyshot has embraced this and other cutting edge browser technology to take user experience to the next level. Check out this quick screen cast showing just how drag and drop uploading works:

We’re very excited about Divvyshot. If you haven’t checked it out already, it’s definitely worth a look. We also love to get feedback. Email human@divvyshot.com or check out our page on uservoice to submit a feature request or vote on others.

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